Infinite Jest has sat on my table for months now, unread. I meant to start reading as part of the Infinite Summer thing that happened last year but it took me ages to get the book – our local Borders didn’t have it nor did any of the other bookstores I checked and for some reason I didn’t order it on Amazon. I finally got a copy from Kinokinowhatever in Sydney, but the size and reputation of the book proved too daunting and so it sat, unread, on my bedside table for ages. Until finally this week I cracked it open and began to read.
It is not an easy read. The narrative is decidedly nonlinear and 200 pages in I’m still not sure exactly who some of the characters I’ve encountered are and how they fit in. And the sections written in an inner-city black dialect are particularly difficult to get through. It’s a book that requires focus. It is not a casual read.
But the writing is brilliant. Challenging, but brilliant. When I read it I am reminded what it is to read a great book – a book that people study and debate, that will be assigned in college literature classes, a book that I’ll remember long after I’ve finished it.
Who knows – after this I may even dig The Corrections out of my bookcase and give that another go. I never did get past the talking poop in that one…